Influen-shell - Solomon Islands

Influen-shell - Solomon Islands

Influen-shell is a partnership between the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Face

Operating as usual


As we celebrate the incredible achievements of women and honour the strength and resilience of those who have overcome adversity, let us empower the next generation of women to dream big and to believe that anything is possible.

Let us continue to lift each other up and support one another in our journeys, working together to create a world where every woman and girl is able to reach her full potential.

Stay tuned for the next phase of the Influen-shell campaign that will feature our amazing Solomon Islands women!

Till then, Happy International Women's Day!


Dreamcast Theater Solomon Islands, bringing art to life (2 of 3)

Jonathan Levo, Film Director

“We got together trying to come up with ways to create peace through theater performances. Kennedy Folasi, he was the one who brought the group together back then. Today, Dreamcast means ‘Cast of Dreamers casting dreams with art every day’.
It’s an organisation that helps the broader local creative industry and artists to develop their talents through sharing their art. We provide a space for artists to collaborate and to cultivate their talents, and to create meaningful art for their personal and professional growth.
We create music, theater performances, films, photographs and dances. The main product that we’re currently producing are films for various organisational NGOs and businesses. Our other clients include the Government and the general public. They identify with the products that we create, the art. It feels like it belongs to them.
Being together with other young people and coming up with new ideas and new arts, it’s something that you wouldn’t be able to come up with on your own. This group of people, they’re all coming up with different ideas and creative stuff, that’s what’s really special about Dreamcast Theater.
Dreamcast inspires creative young people to come together and create solutions to national problems such as unemployment and gender-based violence.
We create awareness and go out to communities and engage youths to empower them. We teach them to voice out against gender-based violence. We provide employment for youths who have no opportunity by providing the space for them to earn some form of income. They take part in programs that we provide and we then pay them. We also offer free shows to the public for those who can’t afford the paid ones.
To keep up with the payments for our office space, we worked hard by increasing our shows, coming up with creative ideas to produce our art products, and maximizing our consultancy services for creative films.
With this economic problem and the COVID-19 pandemic, people have high anxiety. We created a program to entertain people, bring them back to their roots and their culture.
My most memorable moment was shooting one of our feature films because I was the one directing it. It’s based on human rights and sponsored by The Pacific Community (SPC). Currently, it’s still in the editing phase, and should be out by the end of this year, or early next year.
We started using Facebook in 2016 to increase our visibility and to get new customers and clients. We are inspired by other organisations around the region and also the globe. We analyse the practices that others are successfully doing online and we apply that to ourselves as well.
We use Facebook Live where we interact with our followers online once every two weeks. The content ranges from doing a behind the scenes on feature films that we’re shooting with directors and casts or we provide other entertainment like music. A special moment was when a donation was made to us by someone in Australia who watched one of our live events.”

Dreamcast Theater Solomon Islands


Photos from Influen-shell - Solomon Islands's post 24/12/2021

Dreamcast Theater Solomon Islands, bringing art to life (1 of 3)

In 2005, Dreamcast Theater Solomon Islands established a community drama group as a collaborative and healing response following the period of civil unrest. Since their inception, the group has evolved to be an organisation that helps the broader local creative industry and artists to develop their talents through sharing their art.
In 2016, the group was officially registered as a social business managed by the Dreamcast Board and a Volunteer Creative Director, Neil Nuia. In 2018, they were given the opportunity to lease a building known as the ‘DC Art Hub’ and this has since allowed them to incorporate other arts apart from theater like film and photography. Now, Dreamcast is a close-knit family of musicians, dancers, photographers, actors, and film-makers.
With 20+ members now in their group, Dreamcast inspires creative young people to come together and create solutions to national problems such as unemployment and gender-based violence. They also support and educate young people in Solomon Islands.
The group started using Facebook in 2016 where they market themselves by sharing images of their colorful performances, the feature films and songs they produce along with notices of their stage shows.
Dreamcast Theater provides a unique space for Solomon Islanders to grow their love and interest in the creative arts. Its artists also channel their energy into advocating and building awareness for social issues at the community level, making them influencers of positive change through creative expression.

Dreamcast Theater Solomon Islands



Tourism Solomons, proudly flying the nation’s flag (2 of 3)

Helen Aumae, Marketing Officer

“We work closely with our partners to ensure that the Solomon Islands stands out as a destination. Internally, as an organisation, our partners in the industry are our tourism operators.
Tourism is an exciting and fun industry to work in. You get to create new relationships with people you work with, especially the tourism operators and stakeholder partners, because the industry is very inclusive that covers almost all the different sectors such as agriculture, fishing, etc.
It is the ability to tell people and share stories about our beautiful destination in overseas and local markets as well and encourage them to come and visit us. Seeing some of these people who actually travel to the Solomon Islands is indeed rewarding because through their visit, they’re definitely contributing to the economy and helps put food on the table for local families both directly and indirectly.
Our main markets are Australia and New Zealand, given their proximity to the Solomon Islands as a destination but we still focus on the long-haul markets as well. In time, we hope that tourism will replace sunset industries like logging, minerals, gold and fishing that have dominated the local economy for many years.
When we have visitors coming in and through our surveys, we have seen that rubbish has been one of the negative things that have been mentioned about Honiara, especially. So, as an organisation, we tend to work closely with our communities in supporting and encouraging them to keep our environments clean.
Regarding COVID-19, we shifted a bit of our focus off the international market and more towards domestic customers. It is important however, that even in this challenging period, we still want to be seen as a holiday destination when borders re-open.
With the focus on domestic tourism, we are currently supporting our number one partner, Solomon Airlines, with the Iumi Tugeda Holidays package. This program is aimed to help our local operators in these difficult times to bring some much-needed revenue. It also helps operators in preparing them to maintain their offerings and standards for when we can open our borders again.
Aside from the current pandemic, we are still maintaining our international presence as part of our core responsibility as the marketing arm of the government. We have been doing this through PR and online marketing activities. Currently, our strategic focus is on domestic tourism, digital marketing and preparation for the re-opening of borders.
We help to promote and market our tourism operators’ offerings to our customers both local and international. Through their engagement with Tourism Solomons, they have the opportunity for their products and services to be promoted and marketed through our contacts both on traditional print media and especially online and digital as well.
Setting up a post for your organisation’s business profile is very different to when you decide to post on your personal page. I overcame this by learning how other destinations present themselves to their customers digitally.
The other challenge is when there is limited material to share. Thankfully, this is not the case now as we have some fresh materials in store to share with our customers. During this pandemic, the team has been involved in collecting new materials, imagery and updated information from our tourism operators and their activities which are on offer.
Through our marketing on Facebook, it has helped us to reach a lot more people than we’re used to compared to when we were focusing on the traditional style of marketing. This is because as a marketer, we now understand that a lot of people nowadays are actually going online and on Facebook to search for information on a particular destination that they would like to visit.
We also use Facebook as a way of reaching out to more travel agents in our target markets. Now, Facebook, Instagram and other digital platforms are a part of our key marketing tools. This is due to the exposure that social media has created for Solomon Islands as a destination.
Solomons is still here [and] even in these unprecedented times, is always here and is waiting.”

Visit Solomon Islands


Photos from Influen-shell - Solomon Islands's post 22/12/2021

Tourism Solomons, proudly flying the nation’s flag (1 of 3)

In 1969, the Solomon Islands Government recognised the need for a separate organisation focused on promoting the country as a tourist destination for visitors. This led to the founding of the Solomon Islands Tourist Authority, a statutory body and National Tourism Organisation for the Solomon Islands, that represents tourism operators across the country.
The national tourist office was then rebranded in 1996, as the Solomon Islands Visitors Bureau. In 2018, they again underwent another rebrand and are now known as Tourism Solomons with the brand slogan, ‘Solomon Is.’
Today, Tourism Solomons’ key role is to promote Solomon Islands overseas as a desirable tourist destination. In doing so, it also aims to increase tourism development to further contribute to economic growth and diversity, and boost employment opportunities.
Tourism Solomons markets the country and its offerings as a unique travel destination with activities such as fishing, diving, surfing, hiking, trekking, historical tours and its authentic and unique culture. They have 17 in-country staff and a team of 3 based internationally in Australia and the US.
The tourist office targets both international and local travel enthusiasts who seek an off-the-grid experience in a part of the world that remains unspoilt by more commercial tourism. Their target markets include Australia, New Zealand, US, Asia and Europe.
Apart from their marketing responsibilities, Tourism Solomons is active in the community and engages in clean-up campaigns 4 times in a year, as well as activities for International Oceans Day and World Environment Day. In addition, they are involved in various ‘Go Green’ initiatives.
Tourism Solomons began using Facebook in 2009 and the platform has accentuated their digital marketing efforts. Through Facebook, they post stunning imagery of Solomon Islands’ crystal waters, vibrant coral reefs, warm hospitality and local communities. They also share tourism-related news and highlight holiday packages on offer by local operators.
No different than with most organisations, particularly in the tourism sector, the global emergence of COVID-19 has halted everyday business. But Tourism Solomons quickly determined that it needed to shift a bit of their focus off the international market and more towards domestic customers.
Tourism has undoubtedly been one of the industries most heavily affected by COVID-19, due to travel restrictions and border closures. But throughout the pandemic, Tourism Solomons has displayed true resilience and determination to move forward. It has adapted to the current situation, while remaining ready to welcome back international visitors to experience the beauty of the Hapi Isles once more.

Visit Solomon Islands



Solomon Islands Professional Driver Training Services, building up safe drivers (2 of 3)

Joyce Lelau, Owner & Entrepreneur

“It was a risky decision, especially starting from zero. But to start a driving school is good because we see the need here. We started with our own vehicles and funds and with no office.
In the Solomon Islands we have a lot of vehicles and drivers who did not go through a proper driving school and it’s a bit chaotic, especially in Honiara. There are also a high number of accidents that occur.
Our instructors are professionally trained and I’m proud to say that our chief instructor graduated with merit from the Police Academy. That is a first in the driving inspector community and a key element that sets us apart from other driving schools here.
We offer theory classes before we begin the moving classes where we then go along with them all the way and right on through until they get their license, when they are finally tested by our Testing Division from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development. We don’t leave them anywhere. We make sure to go with them and administer their activities until they are fully licensed drivers.
Women are our favorite customers. The feedback we get from them is that ‘we feel safe,’ ‘the instructors are very good,’ ‘they teach us how to do certain things.’ Driving is a skill so you have to coordinate it with all your five senses. It’s like taking them from nowhere to somewhere.
In the beginning, so many think that they can’t do it, but because of how our instructors carry out their lessons, the students are able to gain great confidence behind the wheel.
We had a couple come in where the husband was blind. He wanted his wife to learn to drive so that she could accompany him. However, they didn’t have enough money to pay for driving lessons but we accepted her and put her through on a payment plan. His wife couldn’t read or write properly and it took a longer time for her to be confident to learn to drive.
The ‘Waka Mere’ program nearly failed and I was still working for an NGO when the woman who was coordinating it asked my brother and I to help provide driving training for the women, which resulted in my brother going on unpaid leave.
Thankfully, the program turned out to be successful, where we had these women obtaining their driving licenses. Due to word-of-mouth about this driving training, we began to get all these emails and phone calls enquiring about registering. Then, my brother and I both resigned from our jobs, and we started this driving school.
My most memorable moment was when I made the decision to resign from my well-paying job and to devote much more attention to this business.
Because of Facebook’s reach, it covers broadly. It’s cheaper to use too. Our audience and our customers use Facebook, it’s like 24/7.
I believe in the online marketing of our business and services. Word-of-mouth goes along too but Facebook makes a difference. Seeing that we’re now globally connected, social media is very helpful and we even have enquiries coming in from overseas such as Australia. The use of social media is great for our growth.
The rewarding part is seeing the growth of our customer base. Before, we had to go out and tell people about our business. Now, I know that I’m doing something that is truly needed here in the Solomon Islands.”



Photos from Influen-shell - Solomon Islands's post 17/12/2021

Solomon Islands Professional Driver Training Services, building up safe drivers (1 of 3)

An absence of quality driving schools in Honiara motivated Joyce Lelau and her brother to leave their jobs and kick-start the Solomon Islands Professional Driver Training Services (SIPDTS) business. SIPDTS has now grown to become one of the most established driving schools in the country, providing advanced, professional training aimed at producing well-rounded, responsible and safe drivers with strong instincts on the road.
SIPDTS conducts multiple training programs starting with a basic driving course for both manual and automatic transmission vehicles. Their driver training is delivered by their team of five certified instructors and using their two-vehicle fleet, which includes 2 Class C Extrail vehicles.
SIPDTS’ customers range from self-sponsored individuals to government officials and those sponsored by private organisations. They also deliver driving talks for local seasonal workers departing for Australia.
The idea of establishing SIPDTS was inspired through the ‘Waka Mere’ program. It was funded by IFC (International Finance Corporation) for working women in private organisations and state-owned enterprises.
In early 2020, SIPDTS started using Facebook where they market themselves by posting up images of their theory and practical driving classes, certificate presentations and training sessions.




Twice is Nice - reinventing the thrift store model (2 of 3)

Ebony Finau, Owner & Entrepreneur

“I get my supplies from second-hand shops where I buy and then re-sell. It is easier for them to shop online during busy hours. It saves their time and energy to go out and look for clothes at the actual retail shops.
Due to the re-selling of pre-loved clothing, I decided to name the business, ‘Twice is Nice.’ I started it off because I saw the need for working ladies who needed work or casual clothes, but didn’t have the time and energy to look for them because of their time spent in the office. I usually have two days for deliveries, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The most rewarding part of my journey is that every day I have a chance to get better, to improve my business, to learn something new and to meet new people and new customers.
One thing I love about this business and all the customers is the support system they give towards my small business. I can really tell that my customers do enjoy the products/services I provide by the weekly purchases they do each time I post up new sales. They comment ‘sold’ on the items they want and I get it ready for them.
I usually help families who need clothes, a few neighbors and some close family members. From my leftover sale, I usually give it out to them if it’s not selling out.
The most challenging aspect in running my business is to financially manage it, especially with the basic knowledge that I have.
With the help of the Young Entrepreneurs Council Solomon Islands (YECSI) organisation’s ‘Training Bites’ and the ‘Teachim Me’ program, they have provided a financial training and mentor, which is so helpful to me and I am slowly trying to fill in the gaps and overcome my challenges.
I saw Facebook as an opportunity to reach customers as most people in the Solomons mainly use it every day to stay connected.
It’s a new thing here to have one small business put themselves online on Facebook and Instagram and then people just purchase from there.”

Twice is Nice


Photos from Influen-shell - Solomon Islands's post 15/12/2021

Twice is Nice - reinventing the thrift store model (1 of 3)

With Solomon Islands recently experiencing rapid technological advancement and improved internet access, Ebony Finau decided to make the most of it. In 2019, she established her online retail thrift shop, Twice is Nice, selling pre-loved and tagged clothes, hair accessories and handmade jewellery. Ebony takes photos and writes descriptions for each item that she sells.
Twice is Nice brings Ebony’s customers the convenience of shopping online via social media platforms with just the click of a button and a convenient scroll, providing a quality shopping experience right at their fingertips.
They attract mainly female customers, including young teenage girls and working women. The business is currently run by a lean team of two, but the growing demand for its goods may soon require the team to expand. Deliveries are made primarily around Honiara.
Using Facebook in late 2019 and joining Instagram a year later, they post images of their latest clothing items on sale. Since then, the popularity of the business has skyrocketed.
Twice is Nice has reinvented the thrift store model by providing an innovative and convenient new way for locals to shop for clothing. The success of the business shows that entrepreneurial opportunities are just a few clicks away.

Twice is Nice



Maola Alia, climbing the ladder to put up the decorations (2 of 3)

Phillip Luitolo, Owner & Entrepreneur

“Event planning and doing decorations is my passion. When I left school, it was a love that I discovered in church and I built up on that. It has kept me going right up until now. Maola Alia is a name from my mother tongue, which translated to English means ‘to be surprised.’
We have a ministry in church that looks after events and fundraisings. I was part of the team that organised those things. My customers are my family and church congregation. We also have government and some non-government organisations. We listen to them, their ideas, what they want, and we execute them, rather than doing what we want.
I’m a graduate chef, so I bake and do pastries. It’s also something that we have incorporated into the business.
We put a center piece right at the table where the Prince of Wales was sitting when he had a luncheon at the Mendana Hotel with the Prime Minister.
I help youths in the area by providing them with avenues to be involved in the events that we do, especially since this business started when we were in church. In this way, young Solomon Islanders can find and develop their skills and talents in the area of decorating and creating crafts.
After clients pay us for their event, I also help in giving them pocket money for their school. Most of them are my brothers and sisters from church and my other siblings.
We always involve ourselves in some events where we go and help out in the church with family activities and community fundraisings. Sometimes we went to set up the venue. Sometimes we cook for the event.
Facebook has helped us a lot in making our business to be known in the country and beyond. It is more like a platform where we can reach out to clients. We don’t have the financial capability to go out there in the wider community to do advertisements, and Facebook has been there to help us grow. When customers contact us; they send us photos of work we have done already.
I look at Facebook as the only main advertising platform that helps the business a lot. Without it, I won’t have the business running. It is very important for small businesses that are not out there. It’s more of an avenue where small businesses like us are trying to market ourselves. Facebook is more like a life saver for me.”


Photos from Influen-shell - Solomon Islands's post 11/12/2021

Maola Alia, climbing the ladder to put up the decorations (1 of 3)

From a young age, events and decorations were intriguing to Phillip Luitolo. His involvement in church functions actively nurtured his growing talent and in 2000, he and a friend established Maola Alia as an informal event planning business.
Initially, Phillip found work primarily through word-of-mouth, carrying out event and wedding planning and decorations for his wider church family.
While Maola Alia remains popular amongst Phillip’s local community, they now cater for noted corporate clients such as the Australian High Commission and the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Maola Alia’s most high-profile event was decorating the venue for a luncheon with the Prince of Wales and the Prime Minister at the Mendana Hotel.
Phillip provides a unique and tailored service for every client and this has been key to Maola Alia’s success. Now, Maola Alia has 9 employees and their services include producing crafts, wreaths, earrings, head pieces and other ladies’ accessories using local materials. Phillip also provides event planning advice to his clients.
He also shares his expertise and encourages young people to get involved in the local events that Maola Alia helps bring to life.
Maola Alia began using Facebook in 2014 to further increase their popularity, where they share posts of their decorating work, including stunning floral arrangements, table settings, bouquets, wreaths and balloons. It also provides an additional platform for the business to engage with clients.
Maola Alia is a fine example of how something small can flourish into something great, and for sure Phillip and his team are now reaping the results of their diligence and efforts.



Savo Sunset Lodge, staying connected and thriving (2 of 3)

Bernard Kemakeza, Owner & Entrepreneur

“My parents started the business in 2005, and the responsibility was handed over to me in 2018, where I have continued operations until today.
Currently, there are not that many tourism operations on Savo. There is only Savo Sunset Lodge where we provide accommodation and run local activities with the cooperation and support of the local community.
The main reason the lodge was established is not only because Savo had no tourism operators. It was the proximity to Honiara, and with its wildlife and geothermal attractions. The island definitely had the capacity to attract visitors.
My parents had a vision, and that is now being well realized, with Savo Sunset Lodge being one of the most popular destinations within the Central Islands Province.
We are also very supportive of community activities and events. We sponsor and organize sporting events for the school children bi-annually, providing trophies and prizes. We also support the Churches with various donations and fundraising activities, and we often assist the local clinics by transporting emergency cases from Savo to Honiara.
One of the most memorable moments was when the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, RAMSI, were here. The mission comprised of numerous member countries from Oceania and Australia. A very multicultural mission, with many nice people, who would often frequent Savo Sunset Lodge. We made many great friends from the ranks of the mission.
That is what I really love about being in the tourism industry. It is the people we meet; we sing and share together. The people who come to Savo Sunset Lodge, they all became our friends.
Cyclones are a challenge, and we get a number of them blowing through every year, each time causing loss of business as seas are too rough, buildings get damaged, and crop farms are flooded. Then there is the constant concern that the volcano may erupt, every so often we get some rumblings which causes concern.
Tourism Solomons, Solomon Airlines, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and Ministry of Public Service came up with a concept to support local operators during the pandemic. We focused our marketing to the domestic audience, and actually amending the Public Service entitlements to allow for Public Servants to spend their holidays at listed partner operators.
This is now called Iumi Tugeda Holidays, where Savo Sunset Lodge is listed, and has a package offer that includes boat transfers, accommodation, meals, and activities such as hikes to the volcano crater, visiting the megapod fields, and swimming with a pod of dolphins that frequent the Savo waters. Then there are also the sunsets, which are particularly spectacular from Savo, and this is how the lodge got its name.
Facebook has also really improved our exposure; it is not expensive and it allows us to gain the attention of the domestic tourism market. We are very appreciative of Facebook and the connections it has helped us establish.
Facebook has become an essential component of our marketing strategy; it has really helped us expand our profile. As an SME and operator based in rural Solomon Islands, digital marketing is essential when it comes to giving our products and services exposure.
I am one of the Savo Island youths, and I am looking forward to seeing Solomon Islanders being involved more in the tourism industry. It is sustainable and ecologically friendly, which is best for the future of this country.”

Savo Sunset Lodge


Photos from Influen-shell - Solomon Islands's post 09/12/2021

Savo Sunset Lodge, staying connected and thriving (1 of 3)

Bernard Kemakeza’s parents established Savo Sunset Lodge over 15 years ago with the intention of stimulating commercial tourism activity for the island community.
Located in the Solomon Islands Central Islands Province, Savo is not a large island. It is only 31 square kilometers in size, and has a population of around 4,000. Access to the island is only possible via boat, and is 39.5 kilometers from the capital of Honiara, where boat travel takes approximately an hour. Savo is a Solomon Islands icon, with volcano treks being a drawcard for both locals and international visitors.
Over the years, Savo Sunset Lodge has welcomed and entertained guests from all walks of life. However, it has not all been smooth sailing. Savo Sunset Lodge is also vulnerable to natural disasters.
When the Covid-19 global pandemic halted tourism and travel; spending dropped, and the once bustling lodge was reduced to 33% occupancy, while only retaining 9 employees to continue operations. With this, Savo Sunset Lodge has shifted its focus to the domestic market, drawing the majority of their guests from Honiara.
Savo Sunset Lodge is one of many partners of the Solomon Islands tourism industry. Bernard hopes that more local youths take on the challenge to establish more tourism products and contribute to the country’s economy.
As they maintain business during these challenging times, Bernard and the Savo Sunset Lodge team look forward to the day when international visitors can once more travel to enjoy the beauty and adventures of Savo Island.

Savo Sunset Lodge


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